Gary had been used to his thoughts keeping him company on the drive. It had been two years since he and Jen split. A good year and a half since they worked out visitation and he accepted the drive as part of his new life. Nothing in the world could keep him from seeing his little man, especially not a four hour drive.
Looking in the review mirror he could almost see little Nate sitting in his car seat. Sitting there reaching out asking for dadda looking sad. Gary shook it off and put his eyes back on the road. Just ahead the orange haze ended and darkness stood in an almost unnatural transition.
The smell of vinyl from the ole gal’s upholstery was a comforting companion on the journey. One of the last hopes life hadn’t beat out of him was the hope Nate would inherit the car and love it as he did. But the price of gas and upkeep kept that dream teetering in the wind as every other hope he had had, each of which ‘til now had all blown away.
The darkness enveloped the hotrod and it got cold. Gary tried his best to keep focused on the road. Time passed and he became lost in his thoughts. Memories of what had been, ideas of what could be. Somewhere in the blackness he realized he had been driving too long. He knew the highway well but in the blackness he felt disoriented. After enough time had passed Gary decide to pull over and get his bearings.
The side of the road felt smoother than he expected, the ole gal slowed and stopped. Opening the door he felt no movement of air and yet it was so much colder than the cabin had been, cold to the bone. He stepped out and looked around. The gravel made little noise, that and the lack of wind reminded him of a vacuum. The only thing he could make out were the tumble weeds on the side of the road just before his head lights; beyond seemed to be absorbed by the darkness. The cold became unbearable. Suddenly the road and tumble weeds seemed to get darker and there was a growing hum like a trucker’s horn which grew as the darkness enclosed. Gary jumped back into the cab and pressed the accelerator hoping the headlights would cut through the darkness once again, which they did.
He drove on for what seemed like hours and then, days. Every so often he looked back in the mirror at the car seat. Sometimes he would see nothing, sometimes he would see Nate reaching towards him with black eyes screaming “Dadda!” he kept driving through the darkness for a dawn that would not come.
It was the third time in his short career that Brian’s job had become too much. He now knew why this highway had such a turnover and open placement. He looked at the little bloody boy strapped to the gurney, sleeping sedated. He remembered the accident scene, that man he could only guess as being this boys dad laying there, long dead. This boy still strapped in that car seat reaching out and calling to his father. The paramedic sat as the ambulance bounced down the highway, he sat there looking at the boy thinking about the night, eyes watery with held back tears.
Copyright S Williams 2012